Payment of Wages

Payment of Wages in COVID-19: “No industry can survive without workers”, Supreme Court asks employers, employees to negotiate

The Supreme Court today asked employers and employees to negotiate and settle between themselves issues regarding payment of wages in the COVID-19 lockdown

  • In the temporarily, the Court’s earlier order directing that no coercive action be taken against employers with reference to the March 29 notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) compelling payment of wages, will continue to work

The order was gone by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah.

  • Dictating the order, Justice Bhushan said that each one issues raised by the petitioners need to be decided together, and not during a disjointed manner. He went on to say,

“No industry can survive without the workers. Thus employers and employee got to negotiate and settle among themselves. If they’re unable to settle it among themselves, they have to approach the concerned labour authorities to sort the problems out…”

-Justice Ashok Bhushan

he employers and employees are thus directed to work out whether salary can be paid for 54 days of the COVID-19 lockdown. Such a settlement needs to be without prejudice to the rights of the employers and employees, the Court further said.

It can’t be disputed that both Industry and Labourers need one another . No Industry or establishment can survive without employees /labourers and the other way around . We are thus of the opinion that efforts should be made to mapped out the differences and disputes between the workers and therefore the employers regarding payment of wages of above 50 days

-read SC Order

The top court in its order has also noted that while some employers will be able to pay employees whereas some may not be able to, thus, a balance was needed to strike among these “competitive claims.”

Some of the industries and establishments may bear the financial burden of payment of wages or substantial wages during the lockdown period to its workers and employees. Some of them may not be able to bear the entire burden. A balance has got to be struck between these two competitive claims

Says SC Order
  • The Court also stated that those employers/industries which were performing at limited capacity during the lockdown also can enter the negotiation. Employees are often allowed to return back to figure without prejudice to the continued negotiation, it had been clarified
  • The MHA is now required to file an in-depth affidavit on the legality of the March 29 notification by the top of July. The matter is going to be heard next within the last week of July
  • The three-judge bench reserved its orders on June 4, while directing that no coercive action be taken against employers with reference to the MHA notification

Also Read : No forced action to be taken against employers pursuant to March 29 MHA order on payment of wages, Supreme Court

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